As part of their efforts to protect and leverage their local labour force, the Singaporean authorities have introduced new policies affecting foreign workers.
A vibrant Singapore?
Nevertheless, the business community is anxious that policies in their current form could do more to encourage the productivity gains, skills enhancement and sustainable economic growth that businesses, citizens and the government seek to maintain Singapore’s quality of life.
Influential business and industry representative body the Singapore Business Federation (SBF) published its Position Paper for a Vibrant Singapore in January. A 23-strong steering committee had canvassed the views of three focus groups and 29 major trade associations, local and foreign business chambers on how Singapore could retain its competitive edge.
The federation presented its findings to the government and opened them up to wider discussion earlier this year. It is calling for immediate action and for the government to “take a deep dive” to analyse and address the causes of increasing business costs and manpower issues. Given pressures on overheads, the SBF is concerned, for instance, that the FCF in its current form is constraining growth.
Employers are reporting recruiting difficulties at both ends of the labour market. In response, the SBF is recommending that the government work both with it and with trade associations and chambers of commerce to review manpower- lean and foreign worker policies.
“It remains unclear as to whether the FCF will fulfil its intended purpose in the long run. I think it is best to observe how it impacts local companies before arriving at a conclusion,” says Saradevi Gopal.
Opportunities for mobility and HR
The SBF also recommends more action to develop Singapore as a strong home base for businesses as they expand overseas through a strategy to support its SMEs to grow outside the country by developing and upscaling local enterprises.